Woodward Middle School

Woodward Middle School

WOODWARD, Okla. — A Woodward seventh-grader died over the weekend, according to School Superintendent Kyle Reynolds.

An official cause of death has not been released, but Tony Sellars, director of communications for the Oklahoma Health Department, said the department is "investigating a case of meningitis."

Sellars said there are several types of meningitis, and the department could not confirm yet if this was a case of bacterial meningitis.

Sellars did say, "there is not a risk to public health associated with this."

He said the Health Department has been in contact with the public schools and hospital in Woodward.

Meningitis diseases that are reportable in Oklahoma are caused by the bacteria "Haemophilus influenza and Nesseria meningitidis," according to the state health department.

Bacterial meningitis can be caused by bacteria such as streptococcus or neisseria meningitis. It is typically spread by direct contact with fluids from the nose and throat of an infected person.

“Only people with very close contact to someone with bacterial meningitis (and only neisseria meningitiis or one form of Haemophilus) need to take preventive antibiotics,” according to OSDH. “ … People with casual contact such as classmates or co-workers do not need to receive antibiotics.”

Viral meningitis is actually the most common form and can be caused by several different viruses, according to the health department.

Woodward Public Schools on Monday released a statement regarding the situation: “Our crisis team is on site now and will be available as needed to ensure our school and community can cope and move forward in a healthy way.”

According to Reynolds, a crisis team of counselors is helping teachers Monday, working to help teachers understand how to help students when they return to school on Tuesday.

Monday was a professional day for Woodward Public Schools.

If parents have any questions of concerns, they need to contact their child’s school directly, Reynolds said.

The Woodward County Health Department was closed Monday due to the Presidents Day holiday.

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Nishimuta writes for Woodward News, a CNHI News Service publication.

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